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From the first notes of Budapest Festival Orchestra’s debut at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center on Saturday, it was clear that something out of the ordinary was going on — and not just because of the saxophone quartet seated next to the podium.

Led by its founder and music director Iván Fischer, the sax-augmented Hungarian ensemble began by tearing through a breathless and meticulous account of selections from Shostakovich’s Suite for Jazz Orchestra in Eight Parts. The Shostakovich set the tone for the rest of the evening, which showed Fischer and the orchestra to be versatile, indefatigable, emotionally generous and lavish in their care for style and phrasing.

Aside from instrumentation, the four Shostakovich dances performed sounded little like jazz but provoked smiles nonetheless. Beginning with a celebratory flourish, Fischer drove an uplifting account of the opening march.

A bustling polka showcased lithe violins and nimble contributions from glockenspiel and saxophones. A bumbling bass line, sliding trombones and clarion trumpet added to the section’s playful appeal.